Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Politics: STEM CELL ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

Philadelphia Inquirer---Social issues dicide candidates

Abortion and stem-cell research were points of division for the Eighth District contenders.

By: Christine Schiavo
September 2006

The Bucks County audience was partisan, sporting "I Like Mike" and "Murphy '06" camapign badges. And vocal, with boos and cheers prompting the moderator to remind the crowd, "This is not a pep rally."

The spectator's questions yesterday steered the first public debate between the two candidates for Congress away from the official but broad subject of health care to more divisive issues of embryonic stem-cell research and abortion.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), citing the teachings of his Roman Catholic faith, said he opposes both and believes research should focus on adult stem cells.

"My faith teaches me that it's wrong to destroy human life," he said to cheers.

"This is the clearest difference between the two of us," said Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, a proponent of abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research.

Calling embryonic stem-cell research a "moral obligation" of government, Murphy said, "Every person in this room is one phone call away" from needing the potential benefits.

The debate, held at King's Caterers in Levittown and sponsored by the Bucks County Courier Times and the Intelligencer, was the first of five scheduled encounters. The Eigth Congressional District covers Bucks County, portions of Montgomery County and a sliver of Philadelphia.

Moderator Guy Petroziello, editorial-page at the Courier-Times, presented the candidates with questions sent in by readers of the two newspapers or written on the spot by some of the 150 people present.

Fitzpatrick, who spent 10 years as a Bucks County commissioner, before winning his first term two yers ago, was so relaxed when the debate began that he remained seated as he answered the first question about Medicare.

His demeanor changed when Murphy, confidently pacing across the stage with microphone in hand, went on the offensive, criticizing Fitzpatrick for taking campaign contributions from the health-care industry.

An hour after the debate ended, Murphy's campaign issued a news release declaring victory.

But there was no clear-cut winner. Even Allen B. Pooler, a Korean War veteran from Lower Makefield Township who has worked on Murphy's campaign, gave his candidate a B overall.

"I don't give him an A because he didn't answer a few of the questions," Pooler said. "By not answering the questions, I don't know where he stands."

He didn't give Fitzpatrick an A either.

"When he talks about stem cells, Mike Fitzpatrick is talking as a Roman Catholic. Well, I'm not a Roman Catholic," Pooler said. "I think Murphy is looking at this issue more broadly."

Both candidates are Irish, Roman Catholic lawyers. But that's where the similarities end.

Fitzpatrick, 42, stressed in the debate---as he often has on the campaign trail---that he has spent his whole life in the district.

"I'm from Bucks County, not Washington," he said. "I grew up in Levittown."

Murphy, 32, reminded the audience of his status as an Iraq war veteran. He elicited sighs from Fitzpatrick supporters when he said that it was while walking "in my combat boots" that he decided to run for office. Fitzpatrick generated boos from Murphy's camp when he interpreted Murphy's call for insurance for all Americans, as "government-supported, socialist, universal health care."

Both candidates found fault with the new Medicare prescription plan. And both said they believe all Americans should have access to health care. But Fitzpatrick supports a cap on payouts from malpractice lawsuits, while Murphy favors tort reform without caps.

Neither candidate suggested a way to bolster Social Security. Murphy harped on Fitzpatrick's past support of President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. But Fitzpatrick said he no longer favors privatization.

***Yeah..until it comes tome to vote for it! He knows that this isn't something that the people want. What else is he going to say during an election season? I would have wanted to know why he doesn't support it anymore!



Iraq: U.N.: IRAQ DEATH TOLL SURGED OVER LAST 2 MONTHS

Report cites hundreds more deaths, many as a result of torture

MSNBC
September 20, 2006

BAGHDAD---Hundreds more Iraqis died in violence in July and August than in the two previous months, many of them tortured to death because of their religion with cables, acid and power drills, a U.N. report said on Wednesday.

The July total of 3,590 deaths was unprecidented, it said, while the August figure of 3,009, though lower, was also among the worst yet.

In its previous report two months ago, it gave a combined figure of 5, 818 for the two months of May and June. The latest two-month figure shows an increase of more than 13% over that number, which it described as a sharp surge at the time.

"Hundreds of bodies have continued to appear throughout the country bearing signs of severe torture and execution-style killing," it said in a statement announcing its latest report.

"Terrorist attacks, the growth of militias, the emergence of organized crime reflects a lack of centralized and authorized control over the use of forces in the country, which results in indiscriminate killings of civilians," it said.

Sunnis and Shiites were kidnapped by rival militia and tortured for information about their sect, it said.

"Detainees' bodies show signs of beating using electrical cables, wounds in different parts of their bodies, including the head and genitals, broken bones of legs and hands, electric and cigarette burns," it said.

"Bodies found at the Medico-legal Institute often bears signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones, missing eyes, missing teeth and wounds caused by power drills or nails."


Numbers game

Finding relaible data about deaths in Iraq is difficult. The United Nations obtains its figure from morgues and the Iraqi Health Ministry. Morgues no longer provide independent information to the media.

***A move made by Bush.

The U.S. report gave no breakdown for the kind of attacks that led to the deaths.

The U.S. military has said its own figure for the "murder rate" in Baghdad halved in August, but Washington has not explained how it arrived at the figure," which it says does not include deaths in bombings and mass attacks.

***Does anyone remember the "Pentagon Papers?"

Violence in Iraq worsened sharply this year after an attack on a Shiite shrine in February triggered tit-for-tat sectarian killings.

Washington says a decrease in killings in August was a result of a crackdown it launched in scattered neighborhoods in Baghdad, part of a new strategy unveiled in July to focus the efforts of its 147,000-strong force on the capital.

***But there was no decrease in August killings!


Even higher death tolls?

So far, the figures for September look likely to RISE.

Last weeks saw a surge in the number of bodies of tortured and bound victims found dumped on the streets of Baghdad. U.S. commanders acknowledge that the overall level of violence in the city has risen even if it has fallen in areas they target.

The past four days have seen a number of large-scale bombings that killed scores in cities in the northern and western sectors where U.S. troops have been drawn down to reinforce the capital.

AND U.S. COMMANDERS SAY THEY EXPECT A SURGE IN VIOLENCE WITH THE START OF THE RAMADAN HOLIDAY NEXT WEEK.

***So who are you going to beleive? Washington or the U.S. commandrs on the ground in Iraq? Boy, Bush is really flip-flopping on this one. He said he was going to listen to the boots on the ground, remember? But, because those boots on the ground aren't giving him good reports, he's going to listen to Washington! WHAT A SPACE-CADET!!!!!!!



Iraq: IRAQO LEADERSHIP FAILS TO LIVE UP TO U.S. HOPES

Behind public support for al-Maliki, key U.S. leaders hint at need for change

MSNBC
September 20, 2006

Four months after Iraq's unity government took office, hope is turning to disappointment. Key U.S. leaders are hinting that Iraq's leaders must make hard decisions---and soon---if they expect American support to continue.

***Everybody knows that al-Maliki is a puppet for the U.S. He does whatever the Bush Administration wants him too. Bush is just looking for a fall-guy!

So far, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government has failed to stop sectarian militias responsible for much of the bloodshed, or to make headway in luring Sunni Arabs away from insurgency.

***Isn't it time for Bush to acknowledge that there is a civil war going on in Iraq!

Al-Maliki also has run into persistent trouble from U.S. critics in Congress angry at his recent meeting with Iran's president and his refusal to condemn the Hezbollah militia, which fought Israel.

Publicly, the Bush administration continues to offer strong support for al-Maliki, with President Bush saying Wednesday he is optimistic the government will succeed. But Bush also offered a not-too-subtle hint that the American committment to Iraq and its current government is not open-ended.

***Sure he said it wasn't open-ended! It's election season! After November, he'll go back to "staying the course," that isn't working. Bush's agenda is not to leave Iraq!

The president said Iraqis could count on U.S. support "so long as the government continues to make the tough choices necessary for peace to prevail."

***There hasn't been any peace in Iraq yet!

His words are a clear signal that Washington expects al-Maliki's government to make those tough choices, including cracking down on Shiite militias---some of them led by politicians who are among the prime minister's key supporters.

***Bush dictates to al-Maliki. So if Iraq is going bad, he needs to blame only himself. (or should I say Cheney, since he's running the war!)


More agressive Militias

But rather than intimidating Shiite militias, the security crackdown in Baghdad appears to be emboldening them as sweeps of U.S. troops move closer to Sadr City, stronghold of the Mehdi Army of Shiite radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

***Which is telling us that Bush's latest strategy isn't working in Iraq!

U.S. soldiers said they have noticed militias becoming more aggressive as American and Iraqi forces seek to pacify Shiite neighborhoods on the fringes of Sadr City, which is part of Baghdad.

Even al-Maliki's supporters acknowledge the unity government has failed to gain traction but insist the prime minister is not entirely to blame.

"(He) needs a better team than the current one," Shiite lawmakers Hassan al-Suneid said Wednesday. "Some blocs want him to make some changes or replacements in the Cabinet."

Sunni lawmaker Adnan sl-Dulaimi said the problem is that the government has failed to galvanize support among tribal leaders, clerics and politicians.

That certainly is a long way from the rosy forecasts U.S. officials made six months ago as Iraqi politicians put together their government of national unity after December elections.


More, no less, violence

At that point, U.S. officials predicted a coalition of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds would give all of Iraq's communities a stake in government. Over time, they hoped that unity government would calm the tensions which threaten to plunge the country into full-scale civil war.

Instead, the first months of al-Maliki's government has been marked by violence and bloodshed, forcing U.S. commanders to send thousands more American soldiers into the Iraqi capital.

U.S. officers say privately that Iraqi commanders are themselves frustrated by the lack of direction from al-Maliki's government on how to deal with the militias, especially the Mahdi Army and others affiliated with Shiite political movements.

Al-Maliki, a Shiite, appears reluctant to crack down on the militias for fear of losing support from their patrons. But without a move against Shiite gunmen, it is unlikely his government can persuade Sunni Arab insurgents to lay down their arms either.

"We're pushing this (al-Maliki) government to get a policy" on how to deal with militias, Maj. Gen. James Thurman, the commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Right now, the militias "are holding the rule of law in contempt," Thurman complained.

The message is also likely to be delivered by a bipartisan commission due to make recommendations to Bush AFTER THE NOVEMBER CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS.

Former congressman Lee Hamilton, co-chairman of the group, said Tuesday that the Iraqi government "needs to show it own citizens soon---and the citizens of the United States---that it is deserving of continued support."